As the manager of a wallpaper store for several years, one of my favorite activities during downtime was leafing through old wallpaper books. The different colors, textures, and designs were inspiring, and the project ideas were endless. When a company would discontinue a wallpaper book, we would never throw them away. They would be stacked in the storeroom, stored away until someone would come in to request them. It was never long before we had a visitor ask if we had any discontinued wallpaper books they could have. Teachers, day care workers, craft lovers, art teachers, and so many other people often stopped by to leaf through our old wallpaper books and take the ones that appealed to them.
I think the main reason that people enjoy old wallpaper books is because it’s one of the few things they can get absolutely free. (Some stores will charge a few dollars for them, but we always offered them at no charge) There are a surprising number of things you can do with old wallpaper books. The books include page after page of different patterns, textures, colors, and some are specifically made for children, men, pets, particular rooms of the home, or décor theme. These books include photos of finished rooms, samples of fabrics, and much more. They are not only great for the purposes to follow, but they are also an excellent resource for home improvement and decorating ideas.
So, what can you do with old wallpaper books? You may be surprised. Here is a list of some fun things you can do with wallpaper books. No paste required! Simply wet the back of the wallpaper and smooth even. These ideas are also great for when you have leftover wallpaper from a home improvement job.
Make homemade greeting cards – Thicker than cardstock paper, wallpaper is great when used on homemade greeting cards. The patterns in the book are so different, and can be gender or age specific, so it is simple to throw together a personalized greeting card for birthdays, holidays, baby showers, or other special occasion.
Decorate dollhouses – This is one of the most popular uses for old wallpaper books. People use the old wallpaper scraps to cover dollhouse walls and floors. Very small printed, or solid colored paper is best when used for this purpose.
Decorate empty tins and cans – Coffee cans, baking powder, and corn starch all come packaged in empty tins and cans. Clean them, allow them to dry, and then cover them with old wallpaper. The cans can be used to store crayons, pencils, buttons, or anything you can imagine.
Arts and crafts projects – Children enjoy sifting through the discontinued books in search of just the right pattern for their arts and crafts project. The easiest way to remove pages from these books is with a Exacto knife, so an adult should be in charge.
Make a unique bookmark – Cover a sturdy piece of cardboard with a small piece of paper from old wallpaper books, and you’ll have a unique bookmark. This is an easy project that children can do on their own.
Scrapbook pages – Scrapbook pages are expensive. You can save a lot of money by simply using wallpaper samples from discontinued books. Again, because there are so many colors and textures available, you can easily find the right pattern to fit your needs.
Wrapping paper for small gifts – Since people just rip off the paper and throw it away anyway, why spend a lot of money on wrapping paper? Simply wrap the gift, and instead of using tape to seal the edges, lightly dampen the edges of the wallpaper. The glue will activate, and you’ll have a gift that is perfectly sealed and attractive.
Shelf liner – You may not have enough paper to completely line a shelf, but you could combine more than one pattern to cover it. Old wallpaper books come with several coordinating patterns in the same color, so you can give your old cupboards new life with a customized liner.
Book covers – You can create a one of a kind book cover by using wallpaper samples. Again, one piece may not cover the entire book, but you can use two coordinating papers (one for the front, one for the back) and nicely cover a school book.
Homemade picture frames – The wallpaper samples that come in the discontinued wallpaper books, are just the right size to fit over top of a 5 x 7 picture frame, and sometimes even an 8 x 10 picture frame. The paper can be cut to fit and sealed from behind to attractively display a precious family portrait.
Paper dolls – Introduce your child to a past time we enjoyed as children. Shapes can be easily cut out of old wallpaper samples, and turned into paper dolls. Attach a magnet to the back, and it can be something your child can play with in the kitchen while you prepare dinner.
Make a jigsaw puzzle – To make a jigsaw puzzle using old wallpaper samples, simply wet the back and attach to a sturdy piece of cardboard. Then, using an Exacto knife, make curvy lines to cut the wallpaper into puzzle sized pieces. Store the wallpaper puzzle in a Ziploc back after use.
WARNING: NEVER lick the back of wallpaper to slightly moisten it. The glue can be toxic, so use a damp sponge or towel instead.
Find old wallpaper books at wallpaper stores, or even home improvement warehouses. Be sure to call ahead to ask if when you should come in to pick them up, and also ask if there is a charge or a limit to the amount you can take. If you are using the wallpaper books for a church or school activity, let them know. They are usually more generous with the books if they will be used for these purposes.
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Personal knowledge & experience